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The end is known
  • baloch journalist Sajid Hussain
    baloch journalist Sajid Hussain
The end is known. A body dumped into a river. The body of a Baloch journalist, Sajjid Hussain. Is not uncommon, unfortunately, to find mutilated dead bodies, in various stage of decomposition and beyond recognition dotting the roads of Balochistan: it is part of the nefarious 'kill and dump' policy of Pakistani intelligence agencies highlited many times by human rights organisations both national and international. Sajjid was writing about it, Sajjid was writing about another practice, the so called 'enforced disappearences' rapidly becoming the new normal in Pakistan. Sajjid was writing, before he become one of them, about the ghosts. The ghosts of those, not dead nor alive, which constitute now part of the population of the country: the 'missing' people. Amnesty International wrote last year: “The disappeared are at risk of torture and even death. If they are released, the physical and psychological scars endure. Disappearances are a tool of terror that strikes not just individuals or families, but entire societies...In Pakistan, enforced disappearance has been used as a tool to muzzle dissent and criticism of military policies...The groups and individuals targeted in enforced disappearances in Pakistan include people from Sindhi, Baloch, Pashtun ethnicities, the Shia community, political activists, human rights defenders, members and supporters of religious and nationalist groups, suspected members of armed groups, and proscribed religious and political organisations in Pakistan”. Highliting how the practice of enforced disappearences has now become a standard way for the Pakistani government to deal not only with Baloch but also with activists, journalists, free thinkers and any political opponent all over the country. The end is known, but there's a twist in the plot. Sajjid was dumped into a river, but the river was in Uppsala, Sweden. The place where he had fled is country and asked for political asylum. The place where he thought he would be safe and free. Free to write, free to start a new life. “His body was found on 23 April in the Fyris river outside Uppsala,” Jonas Eronen, a police spokesman, said. Adding that a crime could not be completely ruled out, but that Hussain’s death could equally have been an accident or suicide. He did not ask very simple questions: why the investigations about Sajjid's death started only the 28 March if he disappeared the 2 of the same month; why during all this time they did not give any news to the family about the developments of the case; why after a round of inquiries there was only a deafening silence; how a body can stay for almost 2 months in a river which, by definition, flows; and why somebody who had survived ISI and Frontier Corps 'attentions' would go and kill himself in Sweden. The end is known. And should have been known to the Swedish authorities too. Since Sajjid had been granted political asylum, Swedish authorities must have been familiar with Pakistan's behaviour toward its own citizens. In the country and now even abroad. Must have been familiar, like the intelligence agencies of many countries, with what they call 'the hit list'. A list of scholars, activists, bloggers, journalists and even diplomats who escaped the country fearing for their lives. Some of them after being taken and tortured, their houses raided. “FBI informed us in December 2018 about the possible hit. They mentioned intercepting something between ISI and Afghans. There are people on list from Australia, UK, France, Netherlands, Canada and USA” says one of the people on the list. Adding: “Other people were informed individually by local intelligence agencies”. Sajjid is dead, but his death should not be taken lightly. European governments are responsible for the safety of their citizens. Democratic governments are responsible for the freedom of those fleeing dictatorial, military regimes. Silence and connivence with those regimes in the name of diplomatic relationships, are as criminal as the deeds of the perpetrators. A number of human rights organisations have been openly calling out pakistani ISI for Sajjid's murder. But, apparently, no attempt of investigation has been done following this track. No country and no official international body is even trying to charge Pakistan for enforced disappearences and kill and dump, even though they violate international treaties and laws. Filing Sajjid's disappearence and murder as a 'accident or suicide' case is very tempting, because it will allow Swedish Government, and other European Governments after it, to deny what is happening under their own eyes. Shrugging thinking they are coming for their own citizens and there's not so much Europe, land of rights and rule of law, can do about it, is someway refreshing. But we should remember what Martin Niemöller wrote many years ago about Germans that, according to him, had been complicit through their silence in the Nazi imprisonment, persecution, and murder of millions of people.: “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me”. The end is known, we can already see it in Balochistan. And since now on nobody who speaks against it will be safe if this goes on.
Francesca Marino